September 01, 2010

Anna Deavere Smith coming to UM

Smith300fullAnna Deavere Smith, a blazingly original theater artist and former MacArthur "genius" grant winner, has long been a teacher as well as a playwright/performer.  And now, as the first Stanford Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami for 2010-2011, she's bringing her engaging array of skills to UM's Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables for a one-night-only appearance.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, Smith will present a performance/lecture titled The Changing Landscape of Doctor-Patient Relationships. A brilliant chameleon who builds her solo pieces from numerous interviews, absorbing her subjects' voices, body language and attitudes, Smith uses her documentary-style approach to create insightful, provocative theater.  Among her award-winning works are Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992.  She created Let Me Down Easy, a searing look at the state of health care in the United States, in 2008.

Although she has an array of television and film credits (she's a regular on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie), Smith is no stranger to academia.  She is currently a professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and taught drama at Stanford University from 1990 to 2000.

Tickets to her UM appearance are free, but registration is required.  For info and to register, click here.

June 15, 2010

Young talent shines

Florida Atlantic University kicks off its 2010 Festival Repertory Theatre on Saturday with an ode to the great Broadway songs, And the Tony Goes To...Celebrating 60 Years of Broadway's Best Musicals.  Professional actors Bruce Linser and Laura Wayth join FAU faculty and grad students in a revue featuring music from South Pacific, Man of La Mancha, Cats and more

The show runs through July 22 in repertory with A Midsummer Night's Dream (which opens June 25) and Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! An Entertainment -- The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (that family-friendly show opens July 9). The productions play the Studio One theater on the FAU campus, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton -- though the revue also has a few performances in Mizner Park on July 9, July 17 and July 23 at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices to the Festival Rep shows are $20 ($15 for students and seniors, with discounts for packages, groups and FAU students, faculty and alumni).  For info, call 1-800-564-9539, or to see the complete performance schedule visit the FAU events web site.


Another young-talent showcase takes place Saturday at 3 p.m. The Wonderful World of Conundrum Stages: Forever Young is a variety show featuring talented teens, with kids from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties showing what they can do as actors, singers, musicians and dancers.  Admission is free, and the show happens at the Broward County South Regional Library, 7300 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines.  Call 954-201-8849 or e-mail for info.

May 27, 2010

Theater in the Gables

GableStage, Actors' Playhouse and New Theatre are the go-to professional theaters in arts-supportive Coral Gables, but two companies featuring young talent expand options for anyone who can't get enough theater.

The University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre has just announced its 2010-2011 season, a terrific mix of classics and musicals both recent and vintage.  The lineup kicks off with the edgy satire Urinetown,about a totalitarian place in which access to bathroom facilities is strictly controlled, Sept. 29-Oct. 9.  Then comes Henrik Ibsen's endlessly fascinating Hedda Gabler  Nov. 10-20. Charles L. Mee's Big Love (a dazzling update of a tragedy by Aeschylus) runs Feb. 16-27, alternating with performances of  Aristophanes' Lysistrata Feb. 17-26. The season ends with the musical classic Carousel April 13-23.  Tickets are $16-$22 for week nights and matinees, $18-$25 Friday and Saturday.  UM faculty, staff, alumni and seniors 65 and older can get discounts, and subscribers can save 18 percent.  Call 305-284-3355 or visit the Ring web site for info.

Cabaret_postcard_frontNear the UM campus, Area Stage has extended the run of its hugely popular production of the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical Cabaret.  The large cast features students from Area's Theatre Conservatory:  Rebecca Admire, Marcos Alvarez, Ashley Arana, Alexandra Bacallao, Joseph Barbosa, Michael Barnette, Jorge Barranco, Sophie Carbonell, Marilyn Caserta, Sarah Crane, Stephanie Diggles, Katie Erwin, Manuel Jaquez, Kia Kessler, Ale Mesa, Ani Mesa, Sarah Pelaez, Mia Pennekamp, Caie Pires-Fernandes, Giancarlo Rodaz, Javier Romero, Roberto Sanchez, Diego Schaps, Ali Sousa and Natasha Zedan. The show's director, John Rodaz, and codirector, Maria Banda-Rodaz, are the couple behind Area Stage.

Performances are 8 p.m. tonight and Friday.  Tickets are $20 ($10 for students 25 and under).  Area is located at 1560 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables.  Call 305-666-2078 or visit Area's web site for info. 

April 30, 2010

It's Greek to Woody

Woody Allen Smart comedy comes naturally to Woody Allen, so expect thought-provoking laughs from God, the Allen play being staged by Broward College's theater department this weekend.

Two ancient Greeks -- Diabetes and Hepatitis -- are trying to cook up an ending for their new play.  Help arrives in the form of characters from many eras and places, some of whom have links to present-day South Florida.

Performances are at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Fine Arts Theater on BC's Central Campus, 3501 Davie Rd., Bldg. 6, in Davie.  Tickets are just $8 (and only $4 for BC students, faculty and staff).  Call 954-201-6884 for info.

April 22, 2010

Short stuff

Here's a mixed-bag theater nosh, just before a monster theater weekend in which six -- yes, six -- shows are opening Friday and Saturday.  (Those would be The Quarrel at GableStage, Raised in Captivity at New Theatre, Going To See the Elephant at The Women's Theatre Project, The Sum of Us at Rising Action Theatre, Suds at the Broward Stage Door Theatre and Three Tall Women at Palm Beach Dramaworks,)  Whew!

Tarell McCraney*  Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the two hottest playwrights to come out of Miami (Nilo Cruz being the other, of course), has just become a member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company Ensemble.  McCraney acted in the Tina Landau-directed Theatrical Essays at Steppenwolf when he was doing his undergrad work at DePaul University, and his Brother/Sister Plays trilogy is playing at Steppenwolf through May 23.  The company has commissioned him to write a new play based on the biblical book of Job.

Cabaret_CL_5493 copy *  Opera/musical theater students at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus are beckoning one and all to come to their Cabaretthis weekend.  Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in MDC's Chapman Conference Center, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.  Tickets are just $10 (only $5 for students, faculty and staff).  Call 305-237-7331 for info.

The Kosher Cheerleader, titled The Cheerleader and the Rabbi when it played the Hollywood Playhouse in 2008, has been retooled and redesigned for its current run at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse. Engaging, funny author and star Sandy Wolshin recounts her unusual journey from L.A. Raiders cheerleader to modern Orthodox Kosher Cheerleader -TeamJudaism but still proves she can cartwheel with the best of 'em.  Arnold Mittelman, former producing artistic director at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, directed the new production and is presenting it under the dual umbrella of his two companies, the American Theater Festival and the National Jewish Theater. Tickets are $19-$45, and remaining performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. today, 8:15 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Call the box office at 954-462-0222 for info.

*  If you're free Monday, check out the free reading of Tony Finstrom's After Dark (described as All About Eve meetsThe Devil Wears Prada) at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Show time is 7:30 p.m., and Stuart Meltzer directs a cast that includes Iris Acker, Jeffrey Bruce, Todd Bruno, David Hemphill, Miriam Kulick, Michael McKeever and Andy Rogow.  A discussion with Finstrom and the actors follows the reading.

April 07, 2010

Drama and opera from New World

New world Lots cooking on stage in downtown Miami this week, courtesy of the New World School of the Arts.

Tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m., students in the college theater division (including Breeza Zeller and Jameson Hammond, shown in the photo) will perform three short plays by Noel Coward.  Gail Garrisan directs Red Peppers, Hands Across the Sea and We Were Dancing, describing them as " appetizer of the feast that is Coward's legacy."  Admission is just $12 ($5 for students and seniors), and the plays will be presented in the Louise O. Gerrits Theatre at New World, 25 NE Second St.  Call 305-237-3541 or visit New World's web site for info.

A larger undertaking from New World's College Opera Theater Ensemble happens Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St.  Jeffrey Buchman directs students in Bedrich Smetana's The Bartered Bride, an opera about young lovers outwitting older folks.  The college's symphony orchestra, conducted by Alfred Gershfeld, will play Smetana's music.

Admission to The Bartered Bride is $10 ($5 for students and seniors).  Get more info at the web site or call 305-237-7855.

April 05, 2010

Honor for FIU prof and a play at FAU

Jesse Dreikosen, who teaches scenic design at Florida International University, has been awarded a faculty fellowship to the 42nd annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival April 13-17 in Washington D.C.

Dreikosen was chosen for his achievements as a teaching artist, and while at the Kennedy Center, he'll participate in master classes and mentor the seven student scenic design finalists competing for the Barbizon Awards for Excellence in Scenic, Costume and Lighting Design.  Congrats!


Michael Hollinger's riotous thriller Red Herring, which played at Florida Stage in 2002, is the next theater offering at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.  Directed by former Florida Stager Des Gallant, the production begins Friday at 8 p.m. and runs through April 18.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (additional matinee April 17).  Tickets are $16, an are available by calling 1-800-564-9539 or visiting the FAUevents site.  The show goes on at the Studio One Theatre on the campus at 777 Glades Rd.

March 24, 2010

New season, future stars

Vices00_body_wknd_CTCBoca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company, which will open its production of Lisa Loomer's Distracted(a stinging comedy about a family coping with a kid who may or may not have ADHD) in April, has just announced three of the four shows in its 2010-2011 season -- including the return of a Carbonell Award-nominated hit and two hot titles.

Vices: A Love Story, a sizzling dance-theater-music piece that earned the company eight nominations in next month's Carbonell  competition (including best musical), will return to start the season Nov. 7-Dec. 12.  Artistic director Clive Cholerton says many Caldwell regulars who missed the show when it was presented in the summer of 2009 told him they wished they'd seen it. Wish granted.

Becky Shawby Pulitzer Prize finalist Gina Gionfriddo (who's on the writing staff of Law & Order) plays the Caldwell Jan. 2-Feb. 6.  The comedy (inspired by the Becky Sharp character in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair)is about a quintessential bad date that is followed by unpredictable twists.  A still-to-be-chosen play will run Feb. 20-March 27, then comes Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), a smart play about a remedy for sexually unfulfilled women in the late 1800s.  It runs April 10-May 15, and though I'm totally guessing here, I wouldn't be surprised if Ruhl (a MacArthur "genius" grant winner) and the play somehow figure into this year's announcement of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Subscriptions to the new Caldwell season are $70 to $260 (individual tickets won't go on sale until Aug. 9).  The theater is located at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell's web site for information.


Threepenny_051Catch tomorrow's stars tonight when the New World School of the Arts (NWSA) presents its Rising Stars Showcase at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Students in the school's music, dance and theater divisions will perform on the stage at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Theater highlights include excerpts from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, something from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and a piece from a santería-style Midsummer Night's Dream.

Dance offerings include an all-male troupe performing Remembrances, choreographed by faculty member Peter London; Passengers,choreographed by Gerard Ebit, and an excerpt from The Apple Tree, choreographed by Joseé Garant.

The NWSA Symphony Orchestra and concert choir will perform the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana.  NWSA's Jazz Ensemble, featuring trumpeter Gilbert Paz, will perform the Latin-style The Eighth Veil.

Miami-based painter Hernan Bas will be honored with the Rising Stars Alumnus of the Year Award.

Tickets to the showcase are $15 to $65.  Call the Arsht's box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site.


March 19, 2010

Monday is busy

If you're looking ahead to next week and you love theater, you're in luck.  Not one but two tantalizing events are happening on Monday, theater's normally "dark" night.

Living newspaper At GableStage, the new State Theatre Project presents the second edition of An Evening of Living Newspaper.  Matthew Merrell, Ashley Olberding, Andrew Rosendorf, Gladys Ramirez and David Sirois (who is, just now, giving a sizzling performance in the Alliance Theatre Lab's production of Orphans) have all written new short plays on timely themes -- subjects, as the company puts it, "ripped from the headlines."

Monday's performers are Troy Davidson, Mark Della Ventura, Betsy Graver (she's in GableStage's intense Blasted), Jackie Rivera, artistic director David Hemphill (catch him in Equus at New Theatre) and playwright Ramirez.  The show goes on at 8 p.m. at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

Admission to the fund-raising event is a suggested $15 donation ($5 for students).  For more info, call the GableStage box office at 305-445-1119 or visit the its web site


Dead Man Poster JPG On Barry University's campus in Miami Shores, Monday brings a staged reading of actor Tim Robbins' play Dead Man Walking.  A really fine cast of South Florida actors, Barry faculty members and students will read the play, which is  based on the work of Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who became an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

John Manzelli plays condemned man Matthew Poncelet, and Barbara Sloan reads the role of Helen Prejean.  Also appearing are Antonio Amadeo, Steven Chambers, Ken Clement, Merry Jo Cortada, Patti Gardner, Chaz Mena, Elena Maria Garcia, Miki Edelman, Lyn Foley and Kevin Reilley.

The reading takes place at 7 p.m. at Barry's Cor Jesu Chapel on the campus at 11300 NE Second Ave.  Admission is free.

March 18, 2010

Fundraiser laughs, plus drama onstage and off

Elena Garcia City Theatre is holding one funny fundraiser this Saturday.  Two of its frequent Summer Shortsstars, Elena Maria Garcia (six festivals) and Stephen Trovillion (a dozen festivals), will team in Shorts Unplugged: The Best of the Fest, an event to benefit the group's 15th annual festival to be held in June at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

SteveTrovillion, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is taking a quick working weekend to perform Paul Rudnick's Pride & Joy (in which he play a chic Jewish mom whose grown kids specialize in making her anxious), Christopher Durang's DMV Tyrant, Rich Orloff's Matterhorn and Joshua James' The Race (Garcia stars with him in the latter three).

Tickets are $100 each, and the event -- a 7 p.m. reception and an 8 p.m. performance -- happens at the Key Biscayne Community Center, 10 Village Green Way, Key Biscayne.  Call 305-755-9401, ext. 12, or visit City Theatre's web site.


Getting OutTonight at 8, Broward College opens its production of Getting Out, the play that marked future Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman as a writer to watch. Shelby Steel and Pamela Della Bella play the same character at different ages.  Arlene has just been paroled after serving an eight-year sentence for manslaughter; Arlie is her hate-filled, rebellious younger self.  The intense drama, which contains strong language and adult themes, shows the tug-of-war between what was and what could be.

Faculty member Jett Canary directs the production, which happens through March 28 at the BC Central Campus, Bldg. 6, Second Floor, 3501 Davie Rd. in Davie. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $10 ($5 for BC students, faculty, staff and for seniors).  Call 954-201-6884 for info.


Gordon McConnell, a Carbonell Award winner and one of South Florida's finest actors, is stepping into the Caldwell Theatre Company's current production of The Old Man and the Sea.  Actor David Pendleton, who was starring as the aged Cuban fisherman in Eric Ting and Craig Siebels' stage version of Ernest Hemingway's Pulitzer Prize-winning novella, had surgery after suffering a blood clot in his brain and remains in intensive care.  McConnell will complete the run of the show, which has performances at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, through March 28.  Tickets are $34-$55 ($10 for students), and the Caldwell is located at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton.  For information, call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell's web site.